Germany unveils 4-page "ventilation instruction manual" for schools
The practice of opening windows for several minutes for a cooling blast of fresh air (known as Lüftung) is something of a national obsession in Germany. But now officials have combined this with another oh-so-German obsession - rule-making - to create a lengthy document telling teachers exactly how they should be ventilating their classrooms to ward off coronavirus infections.
German schools to be thoroughly ventilated against coronavirus
The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has unveiled a four-page “ventilation instruction manual” for German schools, laying out exactly why, when and how classrooms should throw open their windows for a thorough air-out, to protect everybody from “infectious particles”. The guidelines are set to be distributed nationwide in the coming weeks.
“Our core recommendation is to air classrooms regularly every 20 minutes for about five minutes with the windows wide open,” said UBA President Dirk Messner. This practise is known in German as “burst ventilation” (Stoßlüften) and “means that the air is completely swapped for fresh air from outside three times an hour.”
Windows should also remain open during break and lunchtime, while the door should remain closed to prevent particles from spreading down the hallways to other classrooms. He added that if rooms cannot be ventilated, or if the windows can only be tilted, the agency believes they are not suitable for teaching in.
Germany bets on fresh air to keep coronavirus at bay
Germany made headlines last month when it announced that it was embracing its love of fresh air to ward off coronavirus infections, and had added “ventilation” to the government’s fail-safe anti-corona formula. The acronym AHA, therefore, became AHACL, which stands for distance (Abstand), hygiene (Hygiene), face covering (Alltagsmaske), coronavirus warning app (Corona-Warn-App) and ventilation (Lüften).
The German custom of habitually opening windows - no matter what the weather is like outside - may seem peculiar to outsiders, but Angela Merkel has repeatedly stressed that it “may be one of the cheapest and most effective ways” of curbing the spread of the virus. This message is echoed by Messner: “Where there are many people in a confined space, the virus can accumulate in the air. Ventilation is the simplest and most effective measure to remove viruses from the air in classrooms.”
And for those worrying about their children shivering their way through the autumn and winter months at school, the UBA assures: with intermittent ventilation, the temperature in the room only drops by a few degrees, and rises again quickly once the windows have been closed. However, it might be best to pack an extra jumper in your child’s school bag, just in case.